April 2016 Pagosa Springs Real Estate Newsletter
The crocuses are coming! The crocuses are coming! As I look out from my deck to the flower bed below, flowers are starting to pop up all over. Thankfully we have had a little moisture over the past few days. This winter was very strange; heavy snow in December and almost nothing since. El Nino turned out to be a dud. Currently our mountain snow pack is at 81% of median. The good news is the Spring Breakers had plenty of snow up on the mountain and the town was busy.
Now for some fireworks. I went to a town meeting a little over a week ago where the topic was the 6th Street Bridge. A few months ago, if you remember, I told you there were big doings about to happen. The Chamber of Commerce director told me something big was coming, but he couldn’t say what it was at the time. Finally, the cat is out of the bag. There is a development plan in the works for the 27 acres adjacent to the hot springs downtown. The plan was discussed at a standing-room-only town meeting. The developers outlined a multifaceted project including both commercial and residential use, along with the possibility of a flagship hotel and convention center. The key component of the whole plan is a bridge over the San Juan River at 6th Street. This bridge seems to be the main point of contention.
You might think the audience would have been excited about the great economic benefit the plan would bring to our small town, but the opposite was the case. I thought the bridge was a good idea, and I was in the minority. In my opinion, the additional bridge would help improve our current traffic problem downtown. The bridge we have now barely handles the traffic we have today, especially during peak times. If we were to add a development, not to mention any other future developments, this could be a real problem.
The people opposed to the bridge have three main objections. The first is that some people would prefer that our little town stay just the way it is. The second objection is over who is going to pay the six million dollar tab for the new bridge. The proposal calls for the Town to foot the bill, and some people believe that the developers should pay for their own bridge. The third objection is over the lack of transparency during the planning and negotiation of the project up to now. Some people feel that the public has been left in the dark. I hope that we will see some compromises because I think this could be a win-win for our community if it is done properly.
Another exciting downtown happening is that what used to be JJ’s Restaurant on the River is about to re-open in mid-April. The new name will be San Juan Marketplace, and a variety of establishments will be housed in the same building. There will be a bakery, a new downtown location for the Higher Grounds Coffee Shop, a Latin food restaurant, and a bar. The new owners are the same folks who own the Riff Raff Brewery, and they have been very successful. In my opinion, this riverfront location is the best of any restaurant in town, and I’m excited to see it re-open.
Now for real estate news. I’ve been extremely busy. The first reason is the 10,000-piece mailer I sent out a month or so ago is paying off, and listings are starting to come in. The second reason is a lot of pent-up demand for new property. Many people are excited about seeing new inventory coming on the market.
Most of the action is at the lower end of the market. The residential market under $300,000 has been strong, and a lot of vacant land is moving as well. We are seeing a big upswing in spec building this year. This will help meet the demand for lower-priced residential properties, and it will be good for the construction industry as well. When the local contractors have money in their pockets, there is a trickle down effect for the rest of the local economy.
Closed properties were down slightly for March this year, but there was a corresponding jump in pending deals. We’re back up over 100 pending deals at the moment, so we should see strong numbers in the coming weeks and months. New home construction permits are up slightly so far this year, which I expect is tied to the upswing in spec construction.